Although this book is in the science fiction collection, it is atypical in that it is not set in the future, it does not involve aliens from another galaxy and it does not involve futuristic technology. The main character in this novel is Sandra Foster, a scientist who works for HiTek. She studies fads and her current project is to determine the cause of the hair-bobbing fad which hit the United States in the 1920s. While sometimes frustrated by "Management's" attempts to streamline processes (such as developing a 62-page "simplified" funding request form), Sandra is not in fear of losing her funding as HiTek can see the value in knowing how fads begin. Because of a misdelivered package, she meets Bennett O'Reilly, a scientist in the biology department, who wants to study chaos theory but is limited to group behavior in monkeys. Sandra is very interested in Bennett because he seems fad-proof and she is intrigued by how unaware he seems to be of current trends. When Bennett loses his funding and his monkeys due to a lost form, Sandra steps in with an idea involving a joint project and a borrowed flock of sheep.
This is a very funny book. Each chapter begins with a description of a fad such as hula hoops, coonskin caps, and angel food cake. The author intertwines information about scientific discovery and how accidents and happenstance have contributed to breakthroughs in research. Dilbert fans will howl at the antics of Management and workers' reactions to their programs. There is also romance as Sandra explores the non-scientific side of her attraction to Bennett. All is tied together with the storyline of the joint project launched by Sandra and Bennett.
Reviewed by mb, 3/01. Other reviews by mb.